Virginia

Virginia Governor Signs New Bills to Expand Voting Access

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam
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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation that repeals voter ID laws, makes Election Day a state holiday and expands access to early voting.

The six new bills expand access to voting across the state.

Early voting will now be allowed 45 days prior to an election without a stated excuse. Previously if voters wanted to participate in early voting, they would need to provide a reason from a list approved by the state. A separate bill expanded absentee voting timelines.

In-person polling will be extended for an additional hour from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Voters will no longer be required to show a photo ID to vote.

"Voter ID laws disenfranchise individuals who may not have access to photo identification, and disproportionately impact low-income individuals, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities," according to the press release.

Election Day is now considered a state holiday. The bill repealed the current Lee-Jackson Day holiday, established to honor Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson to maintain the same number of state holidays.

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Voter registration will also be automatic for people getting services at the Department of Motor Vehicle.

“Voting is a fundamental right, and these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder,” Northam said in a press release issued Sunday. “No matter who you are or where you live in Virginia, your voice deserves to be heard. I’m proud to sign these bills into law.”

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